A woman looking stressed out sitting at a table with a book in front of her.

What To Do When You’re Overwhelmed

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At some point in life, everyone will experience the feeling of being overwhelmed. Whether this feeling is brought about by work, by personal circumstances or by world news and global issues, having the tools to manage this feeling is key in preventing the emotion from having a detrimental effect on your health and wellbeing. 

Failure to manage overwhelm can have a knock-on effect on your mental and physical health and lead to your situation worsening. Below are some easy steps you can take if you start to feel overwhelmed to either change your situation or to manage this feeling and ensure it doesn’t spiral out of control.

Write a List

This is especially helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed due to the number of tasks you have to do and you’re struggling to prioritise or manage your time. By writing down a to-do list, the workload seems more manageable and it is easier to identify the more important tasks to prioritise accordingly. 

The sooner you create your to-do list, the more time you will have to complete the tasks and the quicker you can begin ticking off completed activities - this will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which will hopefully outweigh the feeling of being overwhelmed!

Take A Step Back & Breathe

This is super-important if the emotion or stress starts to get out of control and you feel a sense of panic. There are multiple breathing exercises which can be found online or practised with the help of apps. Taking slower, deeper breaths in general will help calm your body down and stop your panic from escalating.

Stepping outside to get some fresh air or having a drink of water, taking small sips can both help you calm yourself down and take a moment to re-center. Don’t be afraid to explain why you need to take a moment to breathe, to the people around you!


As well as having countless physical health benefits, exercise can be hugely beneficial to your mental health and your mindset - especially if you are struggling with feelings of overwhelm. You can start small with a light walk or maybe go for a run - any physical activity will help to get the endorphins flowing and increase feelings of calm and happiness.

Enjoying your activity on your lunch break (where you can) can really help to enhance your creativity and clear your mind, improving productivity for the rest of your working day to tackle those overwhelming tasks with a new-found motivation.

Practice Meditation or Journalling

Like exercise, habits like journaling and meditation are both available tools that can help to improve your mindset. Journaling especially means you can write down your thoughts and feelings, to alleviate any anxiety and help to make sense of what is making you feel overwhelmed.

Meditation is brilliant for mindfulness, reducing stress and anxiety and for enhancing feelings of calm and well-being. We actually have an entire blog post all about the benefits of meditation which you can read here.

Accept or Change Your Situation

Depending on what is causing you to feel overwhelmed, it may be possible to change your situation. For example, if this anxiety is stemming from problems at work, speak to your boss about how you are feeling. If your workload is too much, you may be able to pass some tasks across to another team member to make your workload more manageable. 

Unfortunately, sometimes we are unable to change our situation when we are feeling overwhelmed. In this instance, accepting your situation instead of resisting can actually make you feel better. Acknowledging negative thoughts and understanding that it is completely natural for everyone to feel overwhelmed sometimes is the first step towards managing these emotions and feeling more positive.

Seek Help From Family or Friends

When you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, it is crucial that you avoid bottling up your feelings. Speaking up about how you are feeling can relieve some of your anxiety and even lead to others helping you and finding solutions to your problems. 

We would always recommend seeking social support from a family member or friend when you are feeling overwhelmed. Talking through your emotions can help you make sense of them and your family or friend will be able to offer emotional support or even some problem-solving skills, to make things easier for you. If you are seriously struggling and feel that you are not coping, always speak to your GP and seek help from those around you as soon as possible. 

When you are feeling overwhelmed and experiencing the effects of stress and anxiety, we would always encourage you to be kind to yourself. As mentioned above, accepting negative thoughts and acknowledging that these feelings are completely natural and normal is powerful. 


Taking the time to do things you enjoy can also help to improve your mindset. Whether that is cooking your favourite meal or treating yourself to a spa day, looking after yourself can help to boost your positivity and help you to feel better. 

And finally, don’t be afraid to say no! If you are feeling overwhelmed and cannot take on anymore, don’t be afraid to say no and to put you and your well-being first. Your health is more important than pleasing everyone around you!